Bird protection tool flies high with Banksia win

31 Oct 2022

A bird protection tool designed by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) has taken out one of the nation's top sustainability prizes, a NSW Banksia Award.

The win for BirdCast, an online app built by the Sustainable Farms team at ANU and which helps farmers track birds living on their properties, follows a Eureka Prize earlier this year
Using decades of data from more than 60 birds, BirdCast is a tool that generates bird occupancy estimates in a range of different habitats.

The team's latest award acknowledges how Sustainable Farms is leading the change in the biodiversity field, with innovative approaches to drive a more sustainable future.

Director of Sustainable Farms, Michelle Young, said BirdCast is a free web tool, developed to help farmers identify management actions to support conservation of birds at the click of a button.

"BirdCast draws on nearly two decades of data collected by Sustainable Farms ecologists on hundreds of farms in southeastern Australia," she said.

"With many species of native wildlife under threat and biodiversity declining worldwide, farmers have an opportunity to contribute to creating habitat for numerous species.

"At a time when many species of plants and animals are threatened by extinction, woodland areas on farms are extremely valuable, providing food and homes for many of these species."

The BirdCast tool enables farmers to predict what birds might utilise woodland areas on their farm, and to understand how bird occupancy might change under a range of management actions.

As the first predictive, statistically based, empirical tool of its kind, it has already been utilized by more than 600 people in less than 12 months.

This award highlights the importance of tools such as this in a climate where protecting Australia's remaining biodiversity is increasingly pressing.

BirdCast and the ANU Sustainable Farms team are now in the running for the national Banksia Awards, announced in early 2023.